Monday, April 25, 2005

What Is It?

Apology? Retraction? Correction? Humor? This ran in the Oregonian Sunday editorial page. It is not edited. This is the entirety of "wahtever it is" that the Oregonian published after the Wendy's finger story broke wide open last week.

"Anyone with a healthy dose of skepticism knew it was bound to happen: The woman who claimed to have found a severed finger in a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant in California has been criminally charged with planting the grisly appendage.

We interrupt your breakfast with this news only out of a sense of fairness. The unappetizing episode has not only been the subject of countless jokes on late-night TV, but also in editorial cartoons, including a couple on these pages.

The woman has only been charged, not convicted, but the case against her looks damning, so Wendy's appears to be on the verge of being vindicated.

There. We've balanced the scales. You may return to your Cheerios."

This kind of snide, backhanded correction falls far short of any journalistic standard. As the MSM carps about bloggers, oversight and standards, examples like this highlight that their holier-than-thou attitude is based more in conceit than in fact. As they chuckle in their editorial rooms about how a "big corporation" will take it on the chin with a dozen funny cartoons, they failed to follow up this story with even a hint of responsible reporting.

I guess a healthy dose of skepticism was missing when this story first appeared. Where was the MSM interest in getting straight to the facts? Never once was the question did a finger get in there when no one reported a missing finger? There are dozens of regulations regarding reporting of workplace injuries, and even a reporter right out of college could have started there to run down this story. But it was much easier to sit in the editorial rooms sorting through hundreds of funny cartoons that made fun of a decent company, than it was to do Reporting 101.

How much shareholder value was lost due to this incident? We all have IRAs and 401ks, or reitrement programs of some kind. How did this story affect Wendy's value in the marketplace? Certainly an angle serious journalists would have looked at...oh, but I forgot we're talking about the MSM. To follow much did the MSM treatment of this story as a humorous piece, rather than a serious case of fraud and extrotion further impact shareholder value at Wendy's? How much damage and lost sales will occur over time?

What I find completely ironic is that there are few independent newspapers or stations left out there, so most of these entities, are themselves part of larger, why the eagerness to attack a "corporation," when these editors are tracking the value of their own stock holdings or their IRAs?

I am not suggesting that corporations get a free pass, but geez, how about some decent coverage, and when required a fair retraction/apology/correction...or whatever that was.


Special Forces Alpha Geek said...

I was in a Wendy's recently and threatened to ask for a large chili with extra fingers, but the people I was with wouldn't let me.

louielouie said...

damnit SFAG......i spit coffee all over my brand new flat screen.


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